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football fiasco Arsenal fans hang up Kroenke effigy as Super League anger grows

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Arsenal fans protest against owner Stan Kroenke after the failed launch of a European Super League. Photo: Reuters

Arsenal fans protest against owner Stan Kroenke after the failed launch of a European Super League. Photo: Reuters

Arsenal fans protest against owner Stan Kroenke after the failed launch of a European Super League. Photo: Reuters

An effigy of rebel Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke was left hanging by supporters last night as the backlash intensified over the European Super League fiasco.

Thousands of protesters gathered outside the Emirates on a fifth day of the fallout, which also saw Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp warn of long-term reprisals from fans.

Chants of “we want our Arsenal back” and “get out of our club” erupted after a catastrophic week for the so-called ‘Big Six’, especially those with American owners.

Former Arsenal favourite Ian Wright expressed apparent support for the protests, tweeting “Kroenke Out”, as supporters descended on the club’s stadium ahead of their Premier League loss against Everton.

All six of the English clubs involved in the failed coup have now faced protest and, amid the angriest scenes yet at Arsenal, Klopp warned hostility from crowds will continue, especially when fans return to stadiums on May 17.

Players from the ostracised Big Six will especially feel the heat, Klopp warned, as he also asked his own club’s supporters to show patience with Fenway Sports Group.

The Liverpool manager’s appeal for calm came as Mark Bullingham, the Football Association’s chief executive, warned “nothing is off the table” as he spearheads a clampdown on greedy club owners. He described an unprecedented effort with the Premier League and the UK Government to ensure the fiasco “can never happen again”.

A host of clubs among the remaining 14 in the top tier are still calling for points deductions or potentially bans over the money-grabbing plot led by 12 of Europe’s richest clubs to form their own competition.

Fans of the clubs involved are equally angry, however, with furious Arsenal supporters gathering a day after key fan groups had told Josh Kroenke, the son of Stan, that the club’s involvement in the Super League was a “disgrace” and “cowardly”. Last night supporters climbed onto ledges, while one fan raised a banner reading: “This is football, not soccer. You haven’t a clue. All you care about is money.”

As governing bodies digest the tumult, senior club executives believe the ‘Big Six’ are more likely to face fines than points deductions.

“Our primary focus now is working to ensure that this can never happen again,” Bullingham said yesterday. “We are exploring all options to prevent that, including legislation and changes to our rule book.”

Klopp, who had been the first manager from the rebel clubs to speak out against his team’s owners, is resigned to the fact the staff and players will feel the heat when stadiums return to capacity.

Asked if he felt it would extend into next season, Klopp said: “I don’t worry about that. It is not about fair play in these moments.”

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The Liverpool squad were given the first taste of the hostility at Leeds on Monday, an experience which unnerved the manager.

“I am pretty sure the supporters of Leeds who were showing up at the stadium and running after us, they knew as well that we were not involved in it, but they didn’t care,” Klopp said.

“They just wanted to tell us what they told us.”

Klopp says he has not received nor sought a personal apology from owner John W Henry for Liverpool’s involvement.

“I don’t think it’s necessary,” he added. “I think I was mentioned in the (video) apology, and the team as well, so that was personal enough for me.”

For UEFA, the most pressing focus is in threatening the Spanish and Italian clubs with a ban from the Champions League.

Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus and AC Milan are still clinging to the Super League after its implosion due to the about-turn by the English clubs on Tuesday, and Aleksander Ceferin, the UEFA president, said they could “suffer some consequences”.

Ceferin, who had earlier directly thanked England for leading the revolt against the plans, said last night: “It’s crystal clear the clubs will have to decide if they are Super League or they are a European club. If they say we are a Super League, then they don’t play Champions League.”

Real’s place in the Champions League semi-finals next week is not at risk, but participation in the future will be unless club president Florentino Perez, who was to chair the Super League, abandons the project.

In England, the FA, Premier League and Government will hold regular meetings over the coming weeks to establish changes to both England top tier’s rule book, as well as for the national game.

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